Proponents of the standard inflationary model of cosmology breathed a collective sigh of relief when members of the scientific team of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer described their measurements of the microwave radiation anisotropy at the APS spring meeting. The COBE satellite had provided the data necessary to keep the theories alive. To explain the observation of such structures as galaxies, galactic clusters and the enormous agglomeration of galaxies called the “Great Wall,” those models required some indication that the very early universe contained density fluctuations from which such structures might grow. But the cosmic background radiation, which should reflect any deviations from a uniform density at those formative times, had appeared remarkably homogeneous in its spatial distribution. (See PHYSICS TODAY, June 1990, page 20.)

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